Folking Around … news from around the wonderful world of folk


The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the editorial office for Shire Folk is based in a small village in South Oxfordshire called Dorchester on Thames. Every other year the village hosts an arts festival that in terms of profile and performers punches well above its weight. From 3 to 19 May there are a plethora of choral groups (Tallis Scholars) and comedians (Angela Barnes) amongst the dog shows and cookery demos. And this year for the first time there’s a folk evening. Being held on 6 May, the festival marquee will be welcoming local hero Jackie Oates and the irrepressible Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys, one of the best live acts around, as you no doubt already know. You can find out more on website

By the time you read this we’ll know who has been named BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2019. There are six finalists – Sarah Markey (flute), Benedict Morris (fiddle), Catherine Tinney (Gaelic song), Ross Miller (pipes), Luc McNally (guitar), and Cameron Ross (fiddle) and the winner is announced as part of Celtic Connections. Given that the 2018 winner – Hannah Rarity – weighed in with an album, Neath the Gloaming Star, that was one of our favourites of last year, and previous winners include Mohsen Amini, Claire Hastings, Ewan Robertson, Anna Massie, and Emily Smith, we should probably keep a close watch on whoever lifts the trophy. website

Shire Folk’s favourite agit-folksters Stick in the Wheel have announced a follow-up to the English Folk Field Recordings Vol. 1, perhaps unsurprisingly called Vol. 2. The host of luminaries recorded in situ wherever they happen to be, has been added to by the likes of Rachel Unthank, Nancy Kerr, Kathryn Tickell, Grace Petrie, June Tabor, and Chris Wood. Released on 19 April on their own From Here Records, Stick in the Wheel once again prove that there’s plenty of life left in song collecting. website

Talking of new releases, Texan gent Jarrod Dickenson has announced a new EP celebrating the Lone Star State. Called Under a Texas Sky, the EP encompasses five tracks made famous by other Texan musicians, including Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, and Guy Clark. Released on 8 March, if you didn’t manage to catch Dickenson on tour, you can pick it up (which probably means download it) from all the usual outlets. website

Also releasing a new EP are Paul Sartin, Benji Kirkpatrick, and Saul Rose, aka Faustus. Called Cotton Lords: Five Songs of the Lancashire Cotton Famine, it comes about following the trio’s collaboration in a project run by the University of Exeter that sees them setting five texts from the Cotton Famine of the 1860s to new music. It’s a limited edition though, so best not to hang around if you want a copy. website

There’s a new album too from Eliza Carthy. Billed as a solo album (although it does feature Jon Boden, Ben Seal, Martin Carthy, and Dave DeLarre, so solo might not be right term), Restitute was released on 14 February (a Valentine’s present for the folkie in your life, perhaps?). A two-disc set (recorded in her bedroom!) featuring ten tracks on one CD and an audio book called ‘The Announcer’s Daughter’, with music written and read by Eliza, on the other, the album was announced as a way of raising money for the ‘monumental con’ the Wayward Band suffered when making their last album, Big Machine, in 2016 (they lost funding and didn’t get paid apparently) – hence the album title. website

With crowd-funding new projects the norm these days, Maz O’Connor has announced that she’ll be using that medium to finance her new album. She’ll be working with producer Mattie Foulds to ‘craft a darker sounding record that brings these story songs to life’. Apparently, it’s going to have ‘lush strings’ and ‘layered vocal harmonies’, so what’s not to like? Given her fantastic track record, this is one crowd-funding project you should probably get on board with. website

Blair Dunlop will be taking his excellent Notes from an Island out on tour during April when he’ll be visiting the likes of the Folk House in Bristol and the Old Fire Station in Bournemouth. That’s after he’s been to the Folk Alliance conference in Montreal, Canada in February and on his first German tour in March. Blair – you globetrotter, you! website

Also off on tour are Megson, taking their new album, Contradicshun, to the masses. True to their roots, the lyrics to the song ‘Contradicshun’ are by a nineteenth-century Geordie songwriter called Joe Wilson. Everyone who has seen Deb and Stu Hanna knows how fantastic they are live, and if you haven’t this is your opportunity to put that right as they’ll be playing the likes of Salisbury Arts Centre, Burcot Village Hall near Bromsgrove, St Helens Church in Alveston and the Granary in Cambridge. website

The Ninebarrow boys, Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardière, have launched an innovative new project – a book of musical walks called Ninebarrow Dorset. With many of their songs inspired by the Dorset countryside, the book features ten walks (for all abilities apparently, but I think we’ll be the judge of that), each one accompanied with detailed instructions, stories, photographs and hand-drawn maps. website

Elizabeth & Jameson is a new collaboration comprising two rising stars of the UK acoustic music scene. Hannah Elizabeth of traditional folk trio Said The Maiden and Griff Jameson from folk-rock band Fred’s House have joined forces to create an indie-folk sound which encompasses their individual musical backgrounds. Together, Elizabeth & Jameson arguably offers the best of both backgrounds; this is simplistic, classic songwriting at its best – a stripped back, harmony-driven sound with guitar, violin and exquisite vocals. They are currently working on a project of songs based on the Whitby area and are touring the UK soon.

Steve Knightley and Phil Beer, aka Show of Hands, will be touring the UK on a seventeen-date tour as a duo in May. Supporting them will be the US singer-songwriter Richard Shindell. Richard has supported them on past tours and is not to be missed. Meanwhile, Miranda Sykes, the ‘third member’ of Show of Hands, is out and about after the birth of baby Wilf in late 2018 (congratulations Miranda!), with lots of gigs in February, March and April. Catch her locally in Wavendon on 20 February and Banbury on 27 March. website


Nedron’s Jig

This year Nedron’s Jig are celebrating ten years of regular ceilidhs at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts in Maidenhead. The band have played every dance in the sixteenth-century Long Barn at the venue. They don’t think that there is a ceilidh series that has been going that long with the same band! The four musicians of Nedron’s Jig are two from the folk super-group Feast of Fiddles and two from the band Phungus. The usual dance caller is Brian Jones, once one of the youngest chairmen of the English Folk Dance & Song Society and now one of the best-known callers on the country dance and ceilidh circuit. For details of their next ceilidh see the advert on the inside front cover.

In the absence of Folk Weekend Oxford this year, a Fringe Folk Festival is being arranged for 25–27 April. To date there are sessions organised at the Crown, Chequers, Half Moon and Port Mahon across the weekend and a concert from Moonrakers at St James Church, Cowley Road on 26 April, 7.30pm Contact: email or email for details.

Talking of Moonrakers they have just welcome renowned cellist Jacqui Johnson into the band and will be touring in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire March – April: see their websitwebsite Their tour calendar this year includes Towersey, Broadstairs and Bunkfest festivals.  

Oxfolk Ceilidhs is holding a fundraising event for Folk Weekend Oxford on Sat 13 April, in anticipation of FWO 2020. There are two ceilidhs, an afternoon family and special needs ceilidh at 4pm and the usual evening dance from 7.30pm. The band is drawn from some of the best dance musicians in Oxfordshire and Jane Bird, usually seen selling tickets or pouring pints, is calling the dances. There is no ticket price this month, just donations for Folk Weekend Oxford.

The Oxford León Association website have announced that Blackfriars have again agreed to host The Misa Campesina – the Nicaraguan Folk Mass – which will be celebrated on Sunday 17 March 2019 at 11.30am at Blackfriars, 64 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LY.  The Mass, conducted by Duncan Sanderson and sung in Spanish, has been sung annually in Oxford for many years. It has "passionate lyrics and complex rhythms reflecting the richness of the Nicaraguan folk tradition".  Oxford has been twinned with León in Nicaragua since 1986. 

For those of you interested in Sessions in and around Oxford, there have been some recent changes to those that were taking place at the James Street Tavern. The French/Breton, Scandinavian, Harp and Galician sessions have now moved a few streets away to the Port Mahon on St Clements. For the new details of these and other sessions in the area please go our website and click on the Sessions tab.

We were sad to see that the sqwarkin’, squeezin’, scratchin’, strummin’, pluckin’ and poundin’ Mawkin have decided to call it a day after sixteen years. Down among the Dead Men is a great album to go out on, though, and you’ve got once last chance to see the boys doing their thing on tour (including ACE Space, Newbury, 16 March) so do yourselves a favour. website


Keston Cobblers


Maz O'Connor


Kim Edgar


Shire Folk Album of 2018

Moore, Moss Rutter